I bought 3 ilex serrata (Japanese Winterberry, or deciduous holly) from Brent back around 2009-2010 in 2 3/4″ pots. They were the size of matchsticks if I recall. They went in the ground, and over time I lost a couple, but managed to keep one going. The earliest photo I could find was this one from 2013.
When we moved in 2015, I dug up everything in that bed, and this ilex went into a 16″ Anderson flat with minimal root work, to keep it growing strong:
2 growing seasons later, in summer 2017, here is how it looked:
I had a very specific vision for this tree, a fat little multi-trunked tree; somewhere around 18″ tall and 20″ wide; like these examples:
Lately, I have been dabbling into shohin-sized trees; 8″. I want to keep both options open. And since this variety is rare, I decided to layer the top as well. In May, it appeared the layer was going to fail, but I left it in place. In mid-June I moved the tree up to get a closer look and it seemed to be making some progress:
I scraped the white tissue back off the girdle to prevent bridging, and wrapped it back up. Maybe it will work after all…
So instead of giving up and chopping, I did a little light pruning down low, and returned this one back to its growing site. If I go the shohin route, the trunk definitely needs more taper than this currently has:
A few weeks after recutting the callus, the entire top died back, so the next step was defined. In the spring, I’ll repot it and change the planting angle a little in hopes of creating a little movement. Until next spring…